Our school is a K-12 private school. We are standards based and use diagnostic assessments for setting baseline skills of our students in reading, writing and math. We also use these tests fperiodically for checking student progress and adjusting instruction if necessary. To further aid our students understanding we instituted differentiated instruction three years ago. In order to do so, we provided our teachers with two years of extensive training and follow-up. The problem is there is still not school-wide use of the methods. Though all of our teachers have assured us that they agree with the philosophy many have been slow to implement it or resistant to give it a trial at all.

As educators who believe in differentiation, can you give me your insight into how to get the train out of the station? I know change takes time, effort and support, however maybe there are additional considerations which have not been met.

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Replies to This Discussion

I have been involved in classroom implementations, school implementation and large-scale implementation of DI. I think my best advice would be to continue on with what you are doing, and consider using ongoing collaborative groups (this does require leadership and structure initiallly) and model lessons, coaching, team teaching, and other practices which bring the PD right into the classroom.
Going beyond the agreement to differentiate to actual regular practice is a tough one. As with any staff development, no matter what the quality or duration, it is difficult to get everyone using it beyond the observations/evaluations that might be done. Perhaps you need to focus on a small set of teachers who seem to have a deep understanding of DI and cultivate their skills. If your faculty is up to it,you could then set up a new group to work collaborative with the teachers currently practicing DI. There will always be those who drag their feet, but if you can get a critical mass....
I would have added a similar answer - keep doing what you are doing, providing support and advice etc, but then I see that you provided teachers with two years of intensive training and follow-up. I'm not sure exactly what this involved, but it is much better than the short PD courses that most of us get sent on at very sporadic intervals.
If it were me, I would be starting to question how strongly some of the teachers actually agree with the philosophy, because unless they do, the problem will continue. I would love to do more on differentiating my teaching, but feel a lack of support, training etc.
The idea of leading by example with an enthusiastic group of teachers, as suggested previously, may be the way to go. If others see it in everyday practise in their colleagues' classrooms and see the benefits to the students, the effect may rub off.



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